You don’t have to be a globe trotter to take in some of the greatest wonders of the world—the 52-storey F&F Tower in Panama City, Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Rome’s Colosseum—and all conveniently located at White Oaks Mall in London, Ont.

It’s all part of Canstruction,a global non-profit charity thatcreates structures out of full cansof food, which raises food, funds and awareness for food insecurity.In London, The Salvation Army is the chief organizer of this fundraiser to aid the hungry, in collaboration with local firms.

“Canstruction is about people really wanting to get involved in giving back to the community,” says Rebecca Thiessen, integrated missions manager at the London Salvation Army’s community and family services, who oversees the event. “Plus, it’s a really fun event!”

Intricate Installations

Every year, local architects, builders and engineers are invited to participate in the event, where non-perishable cans are used to recreate famous landmarks.

These installations are large and intricate structures that require very detailed and designed plans.

“It takes something like 200 person-hours to make this happen, and that’s before the teams even arrive to build it,” says Rebecca.

“Every year, each team contributes anywhere between 1,000-5,500 cans per structure,”she goes on to say. Added up, the total comes to more than 23,000 cans, which translates to 20-25 skids of food.

The individual teams purchase the food cans that they use in their structure, which represents a huge donation to the community.

“That’s their way of giving money, time and effort back to the community,” explains Rebecca.

Street Cred

There are six award categories: Best Meal, Structural Ingenuity, Best Original Design, Most Cans and Best Use of Labels.

“The sixth award is People’s Choice, and this is where the City of London comes in,” says Rebecca. The public is invited to come out to the mall and vote on their favourite structure.

“We call it ‘donate to vote,’ ” smiles Rebecca. The public can vote as many times as they wish, and each vote costs $5. There is an online voting option as well.

“It’s really about bragging rights, street cred,” Rebecca says. “The winning company can brag to all their fellow construction companies, designers and architects that they won the People’s Choice Award. ‘They liked us the best’—at least, until next year!”

Winners from this competition then go on to compete internationally in these categories.

Getting the Word Out

Ultimately, the financial proceeds—and all that food—get circled back into Salvation Army programming that fights food insecurity in London.

“There’s so much more need now, and the need is increasing,” says Rebecca. “Every month, there’s a 23 percent increase in clients to our food bank. So that tells us that people that have never needed to use our food bank in the past are now in a place where they’re experiencing food insecurity. They can’t provide for themselves and their kids, and so they come to us.”

The teams are giving back in a huge way and, by coming out to vote, so are the good people of London. 

“We’re excited about what TheSalvation Army is doing and how we’re investing in our neighbourhood,” says Rebecca. “And by getting the word out through Canstruction, we want people to know that The Salvation Army and our different services are a safe place for people to come when they need help.”

Photos: Courtesy of Canstruction

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